Public officials tied to cyber harassment of CCN

September 29, 2016
Aaron Ochs

Aaron Ochs

Update: Maria Kelly said Aaron Och’s allegation that she helped launch Cal Coast Fraud is false.


Testimony in a libel suit has revealed that government officials or their significant others have shared information and participated in the online harassment of CalCoastNews reporters, their family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Aaron Ochs, the operator of Cal Coast Fraud, testified in a deposition that he regularly converses with San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill about CCN through Facebook messaging. In addition, Ochs said Oceano Community Services District Director Matt Guerrero, former Los Osos CSD Director Maria Kelly and Lynette Tornatsky, the wife of Los Osos CSD Director Lou Tornatsky, have provided content for the Facebook page which was created in an effort to get CCN to discontinue its reporting.

Since its launch in early 2014, posters on Cal Coast Fraud have falsely referred to CCN staff and reporters as having been diagnosed with mental illness. Other posts have falsely claimed that CCN staff are felons. CCN staff have been called c***s and whores. And, at times, participants in Cal Coast Fraud have discussed physically harming reporters.

On Tuesday, Ochs admitted under oath that his claims that CCN staff have been diagnosed with mental illness were not true or simply conjecture on his part. He also testified that his claims that CCN staff are felons were not true. His fraud claims were conjecture on his part.

Ochs was asked for evidence he had that showed CCN reporters had been diagnosed with mental illnesses. Ochs said he had no documentation. But, Ochs noted, Supervisor Hill had referred to a CCN reporter as crazy.

Ochs said he is aware that CCN reporters are not felons.

Ochs has repeatedly claimed that CCN is being investigated for fraud. Ochs said the fraud investigation was one that he himself had mounted. He was investigating emotional fraud, Ochs said.

Ochs complained about stories regarding “children.” In 2011, then Los Osos CSD Director Maria Kelly’s boyfriend’s son was arrested for felony DUI. Information from court records following the DUI exposed a possible conflict of interest for Kelly. Kelly’s board had negotiating with her boyfriend Paavo Ogren who then worked for the county.

Maria Kelly

Maria Kelly

Ochs said Kelly helped launch Cal Coast Fraud after stepping down from the Los Osos CSD Board.

Maria Kelly said Och’s allegation that she helped launch Cal Coast Fraud is false. However, when asked if she provided any of the content, Kelly refused to answer.

Within hours of the launch of Cal Coast Fraud, Hill was asking people to participate on the page that included posts claiming CCN reporters needed to lose court cases in order to protect the county from the stories CCN produces.

Cal Coast Fraud regularly produces rhetoric supporting a lawsuit filed by Charles Tenborg filed against CCN. In text messages, Supervisor Hill has told CCN advertisers he is working with Tenborg to destroy CCN through the lawsuit.

While Ochs and Hill have repeatedly made claims that support Tenborg’s case while claiming reporters lied, they have harassed CCN advertisers in what appears to be an attempt to put CCN out of business and keep it from being able to fund a proper legal defense.

Because of this, CalCoastNews is seeking to raise money to pay for deposition expenses through the fundraising site GoFundMe. Hill is scheduled for a deposition next month.

Ochs testified that Tenborg has asked him if he wanted to join in funding the lawsuit against CCN.

In an attempt to expose the ongoing defamation campaign, in early 2015, CCN published “Is Morro Bay parks official a government troll?”

“Ochs, through Facebook and several websites, has made numerous false claims alleging specific people are felons, or diagnosed mentally ill,” the Feb. 23, 2015 article says.

An attorney firm shared by both Ochs and Tenborg, Kerr & Wagstaffe out of San Francisco, responded with the threat of another costly lawsuit if the story was not retracted. In the letter, the attorney claims Ochs had not written that reporters were felons or diagnosed mentally ill.

“The article further accuses Mr. Ochs of making numerous false claims that people are felons or diagnosed mentally ill,” according to the March, 12, 2015 letter from James Wagstaffe. “That is not true and it is particularly defamatory because Mr. Ochs has publicly, and repeatedly, discouraged any discrimination on the basis of mental state.”

It is unclear what Wagstaffe meant by discouraged or if they were aware their threat was unfounded. Several months earlier, Ochs wrote, “For anyone who is wondering, we have decided not to publish any personal information about Velie, including her diagnosed mental condition.”

Earlier this year, Ochs posted questions to be asked in admissions and depositions and the timing of the depositions before Tenborg’s attorneys had sent the material to CCN reporters and their attorneys.

Oceano Board Member Matt Guerrero

Oceano Board Member Matt Guerrero

CCN’s attorneys asked who gave Ochs the deposition and admissions information. But, Ochs claimed he was protected by journalism shield laws, even though he admitted he was not a journalist. Ochs then refused to disclose his source.

Attorneys for CCN told Ochs if he did not identify the source, they would ask a judge to compel him. Ochs then said, “Matt Guerrero.” Ochs went on to say that as an attorney Guerrero was able to get the information out of court records.

However, information about admissions and depositions is not part of the court record and could not be found in court files.

Guerrero, a candidate for a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judgeship, said later that he had not provided Ochs any information about the Tenborg case.

Guerrero also has participated in the online harassment of CCN.

Shortly after the Cal Coast Fraud Facebook page was created, Guerrero was one of the first people to “like” the page. For months, he participated by giving “thumbs up” to degrading and defamatory posts on Cal Coast Fraud.

CCN reported several times on financial irregularities involving Oceano CSD district managers who Guerrero voted to hire. In all, three managers have been terminated for overpaying themselves with district funds.

Before filing the lawsuit against CCN, Tenborg said he discussed his plan with both supervisors Hill and Bruce Gibson.

Tenborg was questioned about his communication with Hill. Asked when he last spoke to Hill, Tenborg said it had been about a year and a half ago, but then disclosed they had last exchanged emails just several days earlier.

Even so, Tenborg said he had not shared inside information about the timing for depositions or the questions to be asked with anyone.

Following is an Aaron Ochs Facebook post with two loyal followers, including Lee Collins, the director of San Luis Obispo County’s Department of Social Services.


Cyber bullying of female journalists has increased along with participation in Twitter, Facebook and Topix. Of female journalists polled, almost two-thirds have experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work, according to the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International News Safety Institute, December 2013.



  1. Ron says:

    God, I miss the late, GREAT, and brilliant, Ann Calhoun (like, on a daily basis, and it’s been over a year since her death).

    As a perfect companion piece for the wild story above, I offer Ann’s amazing post from May 31, 2013, at this link:

    After you read her brilliant post (oh, and Tenborg, Hill, etc.? Ya’all shoulda paid very close attention to Ann’s excellent, and sage advice… from 20-friggin’-13), be sure to also read her comments below her main piece. Oh lord, they’re great. She’s so funny. SO smart.

    For example, Ann comments:

    Here’s a fun ACTUAL REAL FACT. I was indeed involved in talks with CalCoastNews when Blackburn called several people with an idea of starting some kind of alternate news outfit. It was, at that point, just a gleam in Blackburn’s eye, but when I saw who actually showed up at the preliminary meeting (or should I say, when I saw a father/son team show up at the meeting,) I made a phone call and was out the door, buh-bye…

    One guess on who she’s referring to when she writes, “…when I saw a father/son team show up at the meeting, I made a phone call and was out the door, buh-bye…?”

    Well, let’s just say there’s a reason she made her amazing blog an, “Ochs Free Zone.”

    Then Ann writes:

    Re CCN, I pulled out of whatever Daniel was trying to get set up when I knew you two (Ochs) were involved.

    Lord, that’s funny. [Ann, I love you, and I miss you SO much.]

    Of course, Ann’s excellent comments do beg the question: Dan actually contacted those two nuts to be involved in some sort of “alternate news outfit?”

    Uh, Dan? WTF?

    (-2) 12 Total Votes - 5 up - 7 down
  2. Moss_on_Stone says:

    Maria M Kelly may be attempting to distance herself and team Dawn Legg from Aaron Ochs’s house of lies. In May of 2014 Aaron Ochs posted a CCF post implying Karen’s supposed “mental Illness”

    Aaron Ochs:” We ask this because friends of Karen Velie have stepped
    forward to explain her erratic writing and behavior. We’re now familiar with her actual medical diagnosis. We were tipped off by sources……..””

    In reply:
    Maria M Kelly: “Ok so others should suffer because of her
    issues? The real issue is that the people that are suffering should
    take care of their mental health and or those who love and care for
    them encourage them to seek support. It’s not just Karen,”

    Maria M Kelly:” To be allowed to personally attack and espouse a story that negatively
    effects the health and well being of others isn’t ok regardless of a diagnosis. ”

    Maria M Kelly: “Are those that participate in CCN perpetuating the culture of hate so
    they can use Karen‘s issues’ to act out on their own unhappiness?”

    Maria M Kelly: ” We don’t have to suffer from mental illness and abuse in our
    own families, why should it be any different in our community?”

    Above are quotes from a long complaint 200+ words posted ‘ May 5 at 10:43-am ‘ So during a work day as a “community relations representative” Classy, glad I took screen shots.

    Bonus reply to above by Midstate Scare (Randy Russom, team Caren Ray)
    “Midstate Scare I think this behavior goes beyond mental illness to sociopathic bordering on evil at times.”

    (6) 16 Total Votes - 11 up - 5 down
    • shishkabob141 says:

      The rats will be jumping ship as quickly as they all once climbed onboard Och’s crazy ship.

      Will Caren Ray post any of Russom’s Midstate Scare rants against Cal Coast News to her FB page or does she reserve that honor for Mary Lucey?
      Always interesting to take a screen shot of those who like those comments too, helloooo Kristen Barneich!

      (7) 15 Total Votes - 11 up - 4 down

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